Chasing Joy

"I am guiding you on the way of wisdom and I am leading you on the right path." Proverbs 4:11

Category: art (page 1 of 3)

again running

and so she woke up
woke up from where she was
lying still
said i gotta do something
about where we’re going.

-U2

been running again.

december 26th found us at our local rec center purchasing the family pass.

december 26th also found us beginning what would be our new daily routine.  everyone goes, like it or not.

+++

Children tie the mother’s feet, the Tamils say….We knew we could not be too careful of our children’s earliest years.  So we let our feet be tied for love of Him whose feet were pierced.

-Amy Carmichael

she’s leaving, my beloved oldest girl.  for 3 months overseas.  knowing this time would come….should come, i set aside some things to have more time her last semester of high school.

the end of this season begins in 2 days.  changes ahead for sure-changes in her, changes in us here back at home.

i’ve fielded lots of questions about how i’m feeling.

everyone has been home for Christmas break-boys went back to school only this week.  and the days have been filled with holiday engagements, those trips to the gym, errands upon errands to help our girl prepare for this trip.

so i let my feet be tied.

+++

every time i run my mind writes.  the trouble is that putting pen to paper is impossible while running.  so i make cryptic notes in my phone.  there are 16 ideas there fleshed out a bit while my heart rate beats fast, recorded in hope that an hour or two will one day come to craft an essay or two that matters.

it’s 30 minutes of untied feet.

something else is happening in this running.

peace, clarity, perspective.  right there in the crowded gym, this one who spends so much time in her head is able to release a bit.

which ushers in a stillness.  a connection with the One acquainted with all the ways i’m feeling.

and my gaze shifts up.  as my thoughts tumble out there is  room for Him to speak.

+++

how am i feeling?

well, it’s hard to say really.  overwhelmed with all there is to do.  carrying a sense of urgency to make the most of this time.  tired from the early morning routine yanking us away from the restfulness of slow days.  amazed and delighted at who my daughter has become and is becoming.  excited for this gift the Lord is handing her.  aware of and grieving my daily failures; the little ones like handing my son a still frozen breakfast sandwich…in the car…on the way to school.  it’s ok mom, he says, and attempts to eat it anyway.  and the big ones that leave me in tears for hours when i should be sleeping. cause sometimes repentance is a long process.  wondering what the latest letter home from my oldest’s school means.  apologizing to my younger boy again that his violin string broke because of my idea, sorry son, maybe you won’t play any G notes today????  discussing late into the night with my man about whether we should replace our windows, how the budget shaped over the course of last year, and how we feel about where we’re all going. which is what led to the daily visits to the rec center.

these are the laces tying up my days.

but there is also the running.

singing ha, ah la la la de day…
ha la la la de day
ha la la de day
she’s running to stand still

-U2


so, friend, what is it that quiets your head and heart?  may you persevere in the finding of it, the executing of it, the embracing of it.  and in the process, the finding of Him, the embracing of Him, the being stilled by Him.

I will sing of the lovingkindness of the Lord forever.  To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth. …Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!  They walk, O LORD in the light of Your countenance.  psalm 89:1, 15

 

pondering with Mary

141228_0001

 

And coming to her, the angel said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”  But she was greatly perplexed at what he said, and kept carefully considering what kind of greeting this was….The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

Highly favored, that’s what the angel told her; she had found favor with God.

“While they were [in Bethlehem] the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

i’ve been pondering Gabriel’s words, coupled with all that lie ahead for Mary; all the loneliness, the misunderstandings, the rejections…. it would have been a long and exhausting 9 months.  then they arrive in Bethlehem to discover no room for them.  As Mary set up camp in that barn, did she grumble and stomp;

is this the way the Lord favors?

how many days did they stay there before the ‘time came for the baby to be born?’  a week, two?  uncomfortable and very pregnant, was she able to sleep?  did she snap at Joseph-had he tried-really tried- to find them somewhere else to stay?  the baby would be coming soon-were they to have him here?  Had God completely abandoned them?  were they so very alone?

He was despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and pain and acquainted with grief; And like One from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or esteem Him.

as the ones chosen to carry this Savior to term, to then love and parent him….did Mary and Joseph bear this same fate?

as a follower of this Savior-as one in whom He dwells….is this my story too?  when loneliness, fatigue and rejection set in, when the condition of my home is frustrating me, when the contrasts of this world seem to weigh heavier on the dark side…. will i grumble and stomp;

it this what it means to be highly favored?

nativity2

And if we are His children, then we are His heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His spiritual blessing and inheritance], if indeed we share in His suffering so that we may also share in His glory.

maybe for Mary, when she began to set up camp in that barn it went this way instead;

huh…this is not what i thought it’d be like in Bethlehem.  thank you Joseph for trying your best to make my bed of hay comfortable.  the baby will be coming soon.  let us pray for the strength we need.  Gabriel said i am highly favored.  God will be present here.  He will provide help.  we are not alone.

 

maybe for me too,  setting up camp in this life, it can go this way instead:  “He has said he is enthralled with my beauty, He keeps track of the stars, He dearly loves me.  God will be present here.  He will provide help.  i am not alone.

For I consider [from the standpoint of faith] that the sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us!

 

20161223_121208

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth Peace to men
on whom His favor rests

May you experience His assurance of His delight and deep deep love for you this Christmas season.  


To draw further in: Luke 1:28-38; Luke 2; Romans 8: 17-18 amp; Philippians 3:9-11; Isaiah 53:3; Isaiah 9:6; Psalm 45:11

 

race pacing

IMG_5185

8th grade students sit awkwardly with anxious and overwhelmed parents.  parents stare at their phones while students look around to see if they can spot someone they know.  the guidance counselor takes the stage and from behind a familiar looking podium (they’ve all had to watch the debates for social studies after all) he begins to enlighten and inform of what it will take to graduate high school.  the slides on the screen are creatively composed as signposts along a long and curvy road.  credits and requirements and pre-ap/ap and electives and carreer pathways and magnet school within a school and the arts and sciences and three tiers of diplomas and pick your breakout session next and don’t forget these important dates and deadlines.  seeing the slides up close makes my head spin.  but the camera pans out and we are given a birds eye view of the entire road before the next slide fills the screen.

we are there to gather information.  we stand before a sign with two options-both which apply to our boy.  it is hard not to wonder what would have happened had we turned right to the library instead of left to the cafeteria.  would what we had heard there altered his course?  we are overwhelmed, our son is confused.  after the breakout sessions we are all re-grouped and herded into the gym.  a mother and father and son standing in the middle of a noisy crowded high school gym-set up with tables and tired teachers standing at the ready to answer 100 questions.  what questions do we need answered?  what information do we need?

as we slip out the nearest exit i remember that birds eye view of the road.

birdsinsky

Whether it’s because of your personality or your season of life, your pace is your pace and that’s okay.

-emily p. freeman

i have a girl about to graduate high school at the age of 16.  she has been able to define her Art since she was 8.  she has visited the one campus she is interested in and is only applying to that one school.

i have a boy just trying to make it through the 8th grade.   he dreams of playing soccer with the pros-but didn’t know that till he tried it for the first time only 2 years ago.  he is gifted at turning 88 keys into soul-stirring music and making any item into a drum-it’s how he tends his soul and has no desire to make it a career.  he really had fun building a bridge out of toothpicks and thinks maybe engineering or architecting would make a good back-up job if the professional soccer thing doesn’t work out.  this is new from last week when he was quite excited about what it would look like to be a lawyer or FBI agent.

 one thing we know about this boy is that he needs a lot of margin in his life.  he needs a slower pace to get all those credits in.  is that really ok?  our girl needed a faster pace.  is that really ok too?

every runner knows bad pacing can ruin a race.  i have been running, i know this well.  that birds eye view of the road to graduating high school is the only information we needed.  the rest we already know.  no one else can help us with the questions we need answered.

can i embrace the shape of my child’s heart, cheer on their courageous attempts to live out of who they really are?  can i be willing to do the next thing with freedom and courage even tho it may not work?  can i celebrate their individual pace in freedom?  can they?

140319_0001

Art is what happens when you dare to be who you really are.

-emily p. freeman

Let us run with endurance the race marked out for us….

hope for the unsuccessful

IMG_5185

it is a difficult thing to be entrusted with living breathing small humans, tasked with the job of guiding them into adulthood.  this morning after yet another rough dialog i find myself in a place of needing to do some work, of not having time to waste, and yet being so full of all the emotions that i can’t focus or move forward.  tears cloud my vision, discouragement and despair threaten to take over.  teenagers are complicated as are middle aged adult women (such as me).

i find it so easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees these days.

IMG_3403two weeks ago i prepared a training session for a group of women who lead school age students in bible study.  the remains of this session spill from my pile of papers. but of course, i sigh as i kneel down to pick them up.  providentially one of the papers catches hold of my tear-filled eye and i pay attention.

i’d given each group a piece of paper with a line down the middle and the words successful and unsuccessful at the top.  the instructions were to list off things that make them feel this way in their classrooms.  then i gave them a fill in the blank sheet to complete as i recited the following truths:

Looking to God’s purpose vs. a personal sense of success.

i…prefer things to go smoothly, and feel more comfortable when i’m in control.

God….often works through human weakness and failure, and invites me to yield to His control.

Being prepared and purposeful is important and necessary.  It is good and nice to have a classroom run smoothly….

yet…

The struggles i face do not represent failure, but opportunity for growth…and to see God do amazing things through an unlikely vessel such as myself.  it is more important that God is glorified than that i feel successful.

it is more important that God is glorified than that i feel successful.

True success is allowing God’s higher purposes to prevail.

in light of all of this…how will my inner dialog change?  how will my prayers change?

 

IMG_3545i prepared that lesson, i read those words out loud two weeks ago.  today it’s as if i’m seeing them for the first time.  choosing to reject the mocking of myself about that and instead letting them wash over me afresh, in this moment, after this particular argument, with this particular child.

IMG_3259

methods and mothers may fail (guilty and guilty)
children may falter and fail

God’s love never fails.
God’s higher purpose prevails.

 and that right there brings me such a depth of hope and a settled calm.  my inner dialog does change, and so do my prayers.

maybe you too?


to draw further in:  meditating on Matthew 11:25-30, Hebrews 2-4 and what it means to make every effort to enter into the Rest/Easy Yoke of Jesus.

 

dominoes

150210_0001

they line them up oh so carefully, pleading with everyone near to “please don’t stomp and keep the dog out!”  if they can keep their hands steady, the dominoes snake around and about for a long long way.  if it all goes according to plan, one tap on the first tile will bring about delight and wonder.  if not, well, they re-position and try again.

my boys love this activity.  so much so, one boy bought the other boy a complete set dedicated to just such purposes.  no number dots on these ones, just wooden rectangles that can be stacked and wound around for hours on end.

~~~~~~~///~~~~~~~

obedience is like dominoes i think…..except i don’t really believe it.  at least when it comes to me and especially the things that are hard to obey.  i behave based on what makes sense to me, the problem is the places where my thinking is off.  the places i’ve concluded don’t matter, except that they actually do.

remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in…the face of suffering.  do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded.  you need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised…we are not of those who shrink back.

i’m talking about all the things.  doing the dishes types of things mostly.  the lie is it doesn’t matter, the truth is it does.  it matters if i show up vulnerable and authentic to a conversation, it matters if i take a deep breath and pray and then pursue my child i just wounded…or my child who just wounded me.  it matters if i do the dishes…or don’t depending on the need of the moment.  and it matters if i follow my Shepherd into the places He’s calling me.

the tiles -they are strategically placed and tap-taping along. removing myself from the path brings the whole thing to a halt along with the reward of delight and wonder.

i believe You Lord, help me overcome my unbelief!


to draw further in:  Hebrews 10, quoted above vs. 32-39;  Mark 9:14-24; Hebrews 12

 

for when you are waiting to be seen

IMG_5973

“so what do you do?”

there are people who are able to put a nice boxed up title around what it is that they do.  i am not one of them.  and feeling a bit lost in my identity just plain goes with the territory, boxed up title or not.  i know that my identity is in Christ and not in what i do, yet what i do is deeply connected to who i am.

here in this tiny little corner of the big wide web i write.  there are other small things i do in my brick and mortar life, but my answer to the person who most recently asked this question were these two words;

“i write.”

“oh!  what do you write?”  she responded, genuinely interested in me and my mysterious life.

“uh….i don’t really know.”

IMG_6044

i’ve questioned the time i spend blogging, we aren’t a family with large resources and it would not hurt for me to get a j.o.b.  one will be heading off to college in the near future and the other two following close behind.  who am i to think spending time on this writing is adding value to anyone?  the voice of my college creative writing professor rings loud and clear-he said i had no talent.  it was ok, i was in school to be an engineer anyway.

~~||||~~

 There is a lost art of studying the works of others to find your own style. All of the “masters” were first apprentices. The apprentice sat beside the “masters”, listening to their process, paintbrush in hand, mixing paint, creating strokes that told a story, and stirred their creative spirit.

Jeanne Oliver Studying Under the Master’s Art course*

my painting daughter has a large oil painting that was due last friday.  the professor gave everyone an extension for monday.  she painted all. weekend. long.  yet only half of the stone church sits below the glowing sunset above it.  she brought in what was done and her professor’s words stand in contrast to mine; “hannah, you are one of my most talented students.  many painters spend a year on a painting like this, you can turn it in whenever it is finished.”

the point is, dear hannah, to keep painting.   keep studying the masters and their process. grow and shift things around when needed.  but by all means, don’t quit.

we don’t live in an apprentice culture anymore, but the concept has value to me when i let it.   my perception of an apprentice is one who works long and hard hours without pay, status, or tangible outcomes.  they are behind the scenes, unseen.  they do the work because of a hope for what is not yet, but will be.

IMG_6064~~|||~~

unseen.  hope for what is not yet, but will be.  apprenticing.  the slow process of growing into a truer version of myself.  this is what the writing life is for me.  it’s still unseen and in process.  it takes an immense amount of courage and patience to do the apprenticeship work, to believe that the One who knit me together has value to add to this world through words i compose.  small work is challenging in it’s hidden-ness no matter what form that work takes i think.  but there is One who entered the world He created through the smallest way possible-who arrived as an ordinary baby, in a tiny little corner of the big wide world.

He is the God who both sees and knows what it is to be unseen.

the point is, dear me, to keep writing.  let it take years if it needs to.  but by all means, don’t quit.


*Jeanne Oliver’s Creative Network is free to join, and the costs of the courses offered vary.  even though my art does not involve paint, i’ve taken a couple of her courses and had the privilege of meeting her when my daughter took one of her classes.  she is inspiring, delightful, and such a gift to the art world.  i highly recommend visiting her site no matter what kind of artist you may be.)

i’ve found paying attention to other artists and their process to be extremely valuable.  most recently i joined hope*writers, a community of fellow writers hosted by author’s that i trust:

A community of people who write about hope, who value encouragement and practical advice about writing as craft, business, and calling.

The community is called hope*writers. We believe we do our best work when we have good support. We want to help you skip the learning curve we’ve had to struggle through.

-the hope*writer’s team

 

misunderstood shoes

151103_0011

I’m standing on the street corner with my two boys when a voice calls out from a car window;

“What kind of mother are you? Get some shoes on that kid, sheesh! Have you no love or care?”

Yes, it is cold out and yes my older boy doesn’t have shoes on.  It takes about 45 minutes of therapy for him to wear socks….and then shoes. There was this helicopter you see…..but there is no time to explain, he just calls out his disdain and speeds away.

….he knows nothing of the countless hours of pouring out my very self as mother to 3 children, one of which has sensory processing disorder. What kind of mother am I?….

in celebration of National Family Caregivers Month, i’m sharing a bit of my story over at Anita’s caregiver connections blog Blessed (but stressed).  Join me over there as i discuss the loneliness and pain of being misunderstood.

 

life | dreaming

 

hspokane4

my boys, they talk of firemen and joining the army and playing baseball for lots of money.  my girl, at the wise old age of 2, announced she wanted to be a garbage man when she grew up.  “cause then i can make all the children of the neighborhood happy.”  fully believing that every child enjoyed watching that garbage truck come and pick up the trash in its especially interesting way.

h spokane

she glowed with excitement as an eight year old girl, when she described what she dreamed of becoming when all grown and out on her own.

and i did what any mother of an eight year old does.  shared her delight and encouraged her in her dream.  not because i thought she knew anymore than that 2 year old aspiring garbage collector knew.

i delighted in her dream because i delighted in her.

hspokane3

here we are, this grown taller than me fifteen year old and i, and that eight-year old dream still resides in her heart.  she’s more passionate now and carries more wisdom than her eight-year old self.  she’s experienced more of life and more of joy and more of sorrow.  the dream has taken the shape of a calling, a calling from the One who knit her together and mapped out her course.  and the invitation has come to this mother to watch out for the opportunities to spur her on into who she is.

hspokane6

those watching seem to find themselves perplexed and needing to form conclusions.  we visited a campus this past weekend, you see, and i’ve heard so many declarations of; “wow, you are on top of things” as if we held some superpower they lacked.  or; “a campus visit as a sophomore?  why didn’t you wait?” as if we lacked some wisdom they held.

150507_0114

the truth is i don’t know what i’m doing, mothering these kids.  what i do know is that the One who knits together and gives desires is holding their future in His hands.  and He’s entrusted me with walking alongside them as they journey into who He is making them to be.  and He’s been teaching me about becoming.  about becoming more fully myself.  about listening to the desires of my heart and unpacking them in His presence.  and as He’s gifted me with encouragers along my way, i have drunk deep from refreshing springs when the journey feels foolish and stupid and wasteful.  so why would i offer my daughter something else?

hspokane5

i have no idea how we ended up far from home in an airplane hanger listening to all it takes to become a missionary pilot.  i don’t recall how we learned of this school.  or why, when the postcard came inviting us to Experience Spokane!, we took notice and decided to go.  this wasn’t a well-thought out plan.  i’d like to think that this is the movement of that Spirit who hovered over the waters and brought forth light.  that the One who called to Abram to leave and go to the place He would show him, calls forth Abraham’s children to follow step by step still.  that maybe He who breathed the starry host into existence, can enable an absent minded mother to tune into the symphony He is forming within her daughter….. His daughter.  i have lived long enough to know that it is entirely possible that this movement towards flight school may or may not produce a missionary pilot at its end. regardless, any movement towards the direction of the Spirit contains its own promised end….

…the eyes of your heart enlightened
in order that you may know the hope
to which He has called you,
the riches
of His glorious inheritance in the saints,
and His incomparably great power
for us who believe.

 150507_0116

maybe, just maybe, a dream is an invitation from the One who gathers the waters of the sea into jars.  “Take Courage,” He says; “it is I, don’t be afraid.”

step into your dream, my child, and live

 

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.


to draw further in: Ephesians 1; Psalm 33; Genesis 1, 12

1st – 4th and 6th photos taken by Hannah, 5th and 7th by me on our recent trip to Spokane, WA

 

life

moon3

the moon, venus (my guess) and man’s light seen from my front porch

The Lord said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your fathers, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering  They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them.

They took the very gift God gave to them and used it to reject Him

In Moses’s song he describes it this way:

  The Lord….He found, He shielded, He guarded, He hovered as an eagle, He carried, He led, He fed, He nourished.
Israel’s response to the God who made him, the Rock his Savior….. he grew fat, he abandoned, he rejected , he deserted, he forgot.

barn

daily sights-this one, my favorite barn on the way home from dropping hannah off at school.

for the past 9 months i’ve journeyed along with these people.  beginning with the Mighty One’s rescue from slavery in Egypt, His salvation through the red sea, His care in the desert, all to bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey-to give them life.  and yet, the very gift of life becomes the means by which they reject.

He knew this beforehand.  and He gave them life anyway.

selah….sigh…

i know this is my story too.  this is my story too.

sky hannah

this one taken by my daughter hannah

Before the Lord God made man upon the earth, He first prepared for him a world of useful and pleasant things for his sustenance and delight. In the Genesis account of the creation these are simply “things”. They were made for man’s use, but they were meant always to be external to the man and subservient to him. In the deep heart of the man was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come. Within him was God; without, a thousand gifts which God had showered upon him.

But sin has introduced complications and has made those very gifts of God a potential source of ruin to the soul. Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and things were allowed to enter. Within the human heart things have taken over. Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there in the moral dusk, stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne.

…..The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development, never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution.

-A. W. Tozer from The Pursuit of God

church next to the bus stop, across from the downtown Safeway where the homeless and addicted congregate. 3 blocks from home.

The Ever Near One sustained me with personal and specific truth during all those sick days, those 54 perpetual sick days. now that He has released me from my sickbed, he’s weaving together in my heart some new things.  Jesus said; “I came that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  won’t you come along and explore this topic with me?

life


to draw further in, Deuteronomy 31 and 32

a death by which glory comes

150324_0001

Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.  Then he said to him, “Follow me!”


as the kids are getting older the parenting is getting more complicated.  or maybe it’s just me and the way i strive and think and wonder and fear…

in any case my need for the God who is so very Wise continues to grow, it seems so opposite of what i would think.  most jobs, the longer you do them, the less help you need as you become efficient and capable.  that’s how it was for every job i had before this one.

we’ve got one teen and 2 more following close behind.  and i would be lying if i said it wasn’t hard. and i would be lying if i said i’d become efficient or capable.

i’ve always known that the best gift i can offer my kids is my own mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.  the more healthy i am the more free i am to love them well, and in a healthy life giving way.

but what i didn’t know was that loving in a healthy life giving way would feel like the very death of me.

This is not a time in which motherhood is reveared or respected.  It is not a time of recieving gratitude from the child.  Nor should it be….

-The Mom Factor by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, on adolescence-emphasis mine

i bow to the idol of knowing, i question and question; “am i being unreasonable? ….too lenient?  am i not taking their sin seriously enough?…to much?”  on and on it goes.  there is One who knows the answer to all my questions, and i must listen to Him…..and that requires the deeper trust i’ve needed all along.

It is a difficult process. And it is even more difficult because mother bears this process within herself.  She is the laboratory for the child to become an adult, and it takes its toll on her.  The good mother gets her needs for love, affection, and respect met by God and the safe people in her life.  Only in this way can she altruistically and sacrificially do the best thing for the child, who desperately needs safe passage toward adulthood.

-Cloud/Townsend

IMG_3437

Jesus said that for Peter, there was a specific death that would glorify God.

so too with me.  being a conduit of safe passage towards adulthood-that is a kind of death. and it’s the death assigned to me as their mother.  a daily cross to take up with a command to follow the One who knows the hairs on their heads and loves all of us perfectly.

it is a death that promises life-life in me and life offered to them.  it is a death whose only outcome can be God’s glory.  my strength indeed is small, but my God is big and i love them and they are worth it.

I’ll chase You through the pain
I’ll carry my cross
’cause real love
Is not afraid to bleed

Jesus
Take my all
Take my everything

I’ve counted up the cost
And You’re worth everything

-Rend Collective The Cost

To draw further in: John 21:18-22; 1 Corinthians 13; Philippians 1:1-6; Ephesians 4:17-32; the stanzas in the hymn Jesus Paid it All

Older posts

© 2017 Chasing Joy

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑